What would you do in the following situations?
You’ve to reach the 10th floor in an office tower. You can go by two ways:
a. Climb up the stairs
b. Use an elevator
You want to write a message to your friend. You can write in two ways:
a. Send a handwritten letter by post
b. Send an e-mail
You want to withdraw money. You can do so in two ways:
a. Visit a bank
b. Use an ATM
There is nothing tricky about these questions, and the answers are so obvious. Can you, however, see the not-so-obvious phenomenon underlying our everyday choices? We like to spend least possible effort to accomplish our objectives.
Our tendency to spend as little effort as possible is so strong that most of the technologies, products and services are aimed at helping us achieve just that: least effort! Behind the auto-redial function on phones, Internet banking and ready-made food stuff is our basic need to minimise the effort.
The hiring process is not immune to our nature to spend the least effort. The only catch is that when job seekers take the path of least effort, they invariably create a path of more effort for the employers and that doesn’t work. On the other hand, when job seekers consciously enable the employers to follow the path of least effort, they stand to gain. Here is how it works:
As a job seeker, the natural inclination is to prepare a resume as fast as possible and shoot it out to as many employers as possible. When you do that you create two problems:
First, a resume prepared in a hurry is likely to be long, complicated, unfocused, and may contain mistakes. Second, a generic resume fails to connect with the unique needs of different employers. When recruiters look at such resumes, they are unable to figure out candidates’ suitability as quickly and clearly as they would like to do. As a result, hurriedly prepared, generic resumes go to the rejection pile.
The smartness lies in spending more effort in preparing your resume so that employers spend least effort while dealing with it. Specifically, that means:
- tailoring your resume according to each employer’s unique needs
- keeping it short—2 pages or 3 pages (max.)
- ensuring it contains only the relevant information
- keeping it simple, credible and without any mistakes
Job seekers appear at interviews expecting employers to question them and assess their suitability. But when you follow this common approach, you demand more effort from employers. They have to first dig out all the relevant information from you, and then make an assessment whether you fit into their needs.
On the contrary, if you take the initiative during an interview to show your understanding of employer’s needs and then demonstrate how you can fulfil them, you take them along the path of least effort. And employers would prefer such candidates.
Typically, job seekers focus on job openings advertised in the newspapers or on the Internet. For employers, however, the route of advertising vacancies, then getting flooded with applications and interviewing scores of candidates is a route of “more effort.”
A quick way to find a job would be to get in touch with potential employers either through contacts or directly. That way, you’ll save them the extra effort. That’s the reason why many smart job seekers get jobs by networking or showing the guts to approach employers directly.
The bottom line: To enjoy success in the job market, consciously help potential employers to take the path of least effort. Invariably, this would mean making more effort on your side at every stage of the hiring process. But isn’t that extra effort worth it if it helps to shorten your job search?
Atul Mathur is the author of three ebooks: 5 Quick Steps to a New Job, The Best Career Move: Know Yourself and The Secret of Finding the Right Career Direction.